Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cynical Reform

I haven't posted in a spell and a new friend asked me today about whether I thought reform worked better from within or from without. Aristotle, Muhammed, John Huss, Martin Luther, Jean Paul Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin all have given us wise counsel on this very question, which, not being smart, I won't bother to include.

Being a dog-fancier, though, I think it is useful to consider the 4th Century B.C. Philosopher, Diogenes, the Cynic. The word Cynic originally meant dog. The reform Diogenes followed and taught was to live as a dog lives, unashamed of ones habits and desires and at once self-indulgent and propertyless. When Alexander The Great offered Diogenes to give him any gift the philosopher asked, Diogenes asked the conqueror of the known world to step out of Diogenes' sunlight.

What does this have to do with reform being more effective internally or externally? Diogenes of Sinope sought to change his environment by concentrating on his appetites, nourishing those consistent with living and disregarding those he saw as distractions. He became wealthy by changing his standard of well-being. All reforms begin by choosing the right appetite.

So we in this system, when we are near to home complain about choices made for us, the frustration of our own will by others and the impositions of other emperors on our daily activities. I would contend that the central appetite of the system is for autonomy, that the enemy of autonomy is sovereignty and that the chief distracting appetite is for funding.

So, this cynic, would propose that the first reform to be attempted is to stop worrying about funding, refrain from trying to command the neighbor and concentrate on cynical choices. Then we can get to reliable, person-centered outcome data.

This, by the way, is what happens when you post because you haven't posted in a while. Silence has its own muses.


Michelle said...

Hi Doug

I really enjoyed this one. Especially since in Chinese astrology the Dog IS the cynic! Rather neat bit of worldwide synchronicity.

Funny too, because I can't say I've ever looked at real furry dogs and thought they were cynical.. except perhaps one poodle I owned as a kid. ;-)

Doug said...

Welcome here, Michelle. So the Greeks and the Chinese agree. My dogs respond: "And you call us cynics?"